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charcoal forge


G.Lamontagne

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alright...so i have been around here for a while and made around a dozen blades, now that im back home i want to build my own charcoal forge and im wondering what size the dimensions would be for somthing thats going to see general forging but mainly blades less then 12" (cutting edge), welding and maybe some hammers/axes at some point. now that you know what im looking to do...how big of a fire pot should i be making? and do i just need the fire pot or should i have the sides flare open above the fire pot i.e. 6x10 fire pot then 10x14 at the top of the forge...is this making any sense? i liked the forge daniel gentile made here: http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?sh...ic=6041&hl= but would it also work for charcoal? i dont recall what daniel did and the pictures dont work in the thread any more but i would using a side blown... i realize i could just go with a brake drum forge or the livley forge...i have seen them and iv heard they work well....i just kinda dont wanna do it that way, you know? alright and lastly how thick should my forge material be? will 1/8th" be enough or should i go to 1/4? thanks for answering my 101 questions...its much appreciated

formerly youngbuck...i now have a name!

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One thing about a charcoal forge - it uses less fuel if it is insulated and since charcoal has so little mass per volume if you don't insulate your forge you will continually be feeding the fire. You'll probably want 1 to 2 inches of refractry material lining the fire pit. Charcoal also uses less air.

As to size, if you get a fire roughly 8 inches in diameter that will forge and heat treat a 10 to 12 in blade.

I'm not sure on the welding because I'm still working on learning that.

For the side blast, How are you planning on doing that. Side blast are traditionally water cooled.

 

ron

Having watched government for some time, it has become obvious that our government is no longer for the people. If the current trend continues, it won't be long untill armed rebellion is required.

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well....i had just been planning on making a grate in the side of the fire box and piping in a 2 inch tube or somthing and hooking that up to a small squirrel cage blower....i didnt want to put any tyre in at all does this sound about right?? also i was think of a rectangular forge so if i went about 8x4? the charcoal wont be a problem as far as getting it...i live near active logging and my father is a carpenter so there is more then enough wood...its just making it into charcoal...

 

Guy

formerly youngbuck...i now have a name!

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How were you planning on making the grate and of what material. Side blast gets hot enough where the air comes in to melt or burn up a piece of metal if it isn't cooled.

You can use a squirrel cage blower but you will likely have to make some method to regulate the air going into the fire.

8x4 sound like a good starting point for the size of the fire. What insulation material were you thinking of if any? Some refractory is easy to reshape and / or resize (such as wood ash).

 

You'll want the pipe or grate to be a couple of inches above the bottom of the fire pit so any ash from the charcoal and fines that would tend to block free air flow will settle below the air.

 

ron

Having watched government for some time, it has become obvious that our government is no longer for the people. If the current trend continues, it won't be long untill armed rebellion is required.

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I built a forge in one of those Aussie Walkabout charcoal grills. I made the tweyere out of 1" black pipe that I grilled holes in about 1/2" inch appart or so in a staggered line. I used a mixture of approxamately three parts clay kitty litter (you could recycle some used stuff if you live far enough out in the country and your forge is a good distance from the house :wacko: ) one part sand with a couple of good handfulls of straw. I packed it tight up against the tweyere, and under it, tapering outward to about 4-5" at the top. I let it dry for a few days in the hot Virginia sun and then, as an after thought, lined it with some refractory cement that I had left over from making my gas forge. I ran the ends of the tweyere a few inches past the sides of the forge and keep plastic caps on the ends so the I can slip them off and clean it out as needed.

 

I've used a few things for an air supply. I started out with a raft inflator that looks like a bicycle pump on steroids that pushes air on both the up and down strokes. It works well for just forging but I don't think it will cut it for getting up to welding heat. That can be useful for not overheating my steel. I can get the steel up to a bright red but no more. The down side is that it is slow to heat/reheat the blades and it is tiring. Both serve to cut down actual time at the anvil. I've also used an eletric raft pump but that pushes too much air. Wide open, it eats up the charcoal and brings the steel up to a bright yellow real fast so you have to have to put a valve in the line to regulate air flow. I've already burned out one eletric pump and my next idea is to do what I was told to do in the first place and get a cheap hair dryer. I did buy a hand crank air pump or about $45 on ebay. The only reason that I got it that cheap is that the seller said that he thought that it had a bearing going out. It did. Now I'm saving to have it repaired. I know that Tim Lively, in his video, stated that you could get one for about $25. That was then. Now you can put a "1" in front of that number and stand a chance of getting one, maybe.

 

Doug Lester

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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I have two charcoal forges, a general purpose, and a big ARSE one that I have heated 4" square bar in before. Both are side blast, non-cooled. Building a charcoal forge is something primal. Just go with your gut, then tweak it. :)

.

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I built a charcoal forge based on Lively's design and I'd say for forging it is just about right. I don't think it would work for welding??? But, if you could use some black pipe and make it a side blast I think you could weld just fine. I have used two different air sources, a $5 walmart hair dryer and an air vent blower, one like in the bathroom ceiling. Both worked well for general use. I think the side blast with the hair dryer would probably be able to weld. I recall seeing some dimensions once that someone had but can't remember where? I think the area right in front of the side blast was something like 4-5" wide by 4-5" deep? But I can't remember very well. With the side blast pipe angled down. I've seen pictures of a Japanese forge and they used what appeared to be ordinary red clay bricks. Hope this helps

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well...i hadnt planned on using a refactory or any sort but by the sounds it, maybe it will make a big difference, i was thinking of a squirrel cage fan and just putting a hand crank on it that way ill use less fuel and its just easier as far as set up goes...that way i wouldnt have to have away to regulate air flow either i dont think...anyways and for the grate i was thinking of cutting a hole in the side of the fire box and welding in some expanded metal or i think theres still some grate stuff my dad had for a job years ago kicken around the shop...

formerly youngbuck...i now have a name!

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Have you seen this over in the the "Tools" section?

 

http://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?showtopic=7897

 

The thing about forges is that they are specialized tools, geared towards the work that is being done. Not that one forge cannot do many different things but, heat treating knives calls for an even heat over a long object, while forging knives (and most other things) does not require heat over the entirety of the object. Knifemakers usually fall into one of four classes: One - builds a long forge that will work for heat treating and burns extra fuel while forging, such as the Lively forge. Two - Uses a typical forge with small hot spot and struggles to get even heat over the entirety of the blade for heat treating, not really an ideal solution. Three - builds specialized forges for each task and never has enough room in the workshop but, has the "right tool for the job". Four - spends much energy and money trying to build one forge that will do it all. The link to the forge, above, that MDF built in the "Tools" section is the best effort I have seen towards the "one forge that does it all" category. It is modular and can be shortened or lengthened by adding or subtracting firebricks and changing the tuyere. Nonetheless, if you decided to forge a sword you would either need to build it much bigger to begin with, or build a second forge for the purpose.

 

You should be able to weld in any forge that you build using charcoal. In fact, if it is built right, you will be able to burn steel just as you could with coal. I have been thinking about building a side blast forge but, have not, yet. Nor have I used one and thus cannot comment on side blast versus bottom blast designs. Tyler Murch has stated that he has two side blast forges, perhaps he could address the bottom vs. side blown question. I admit to being curious about it myself. Having a table that the firepot sets in is a very useful thing and I would say that, as long as you have the room, a bigger table is better. It provides a handy place to store fuel, tools, and whatnot - all, conveniently, right where they are needed. In addition, it is very useful in supporting odd and difficult shapes while they are in the forge, all you have to do is pile stuff up under it. The forges that one sees made out of metal are generally done that way so that they are more portable. If you are not going to move your forge, using refractories will make your forge more efficient and versatile. Even if you do make the forge out of metal, I would still find a way to give it some kind of refractory lining.

“All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible.” Kahlil Gibran

"It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them." - Alfred Adler

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Not to be contradictory but I have an elongated fire box as in Tim Lively's design with the tuyere across the bottom and one of the advantages is that I can have the fire long or small. Tim use some wet clay mix to block off part of the fire box. I haven't found that to be necessary. I just pull the burning charcoal together into one pile so I can just heat about 3-4" of steel or I can spread out the fuel and heat treat a knife up to around a foot or so total length. Remember, it is not just the burning charcoal that you have under your work that will bring it up to a red heat or higher. You also need charcoal covering the work. Controlling the amount of your work covered by the charcoal will control the area of the steel brought up to working heat.

 

Doug Lester

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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I've never tried to run a squirrel cage by hand so I don't know if you'll be able to push any air running it with a crank.

As to your grate any metal you put right next to the air source without cooling will burn up in short order. That point gets hot enough to cause the grate to oxidize from all the fresh air blowing over it. You'll either be replacing it regularly or will need to cool it some way.

Have a go and see how it works.

 

ron

Having watched government for some time, it has become obvious that our government is no longer for the people. If the current trend continues, it won't be long untill armed rebellion is required.

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You don't need a great with a bottom shot forge either if you use a pipe tuyere. You just have to have a way of opening up the ends of the pipe so that you can clean the ashes out occasionally, which I've yet to have had to do. Charcoal is a lot cleaner burning than coal or coke and doesn't leave a heavy ash.

 

Doug Lester

HELP...I'm a twenty year old trapped in the body of an old man!!!

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Here's my design for reference - http://64.176.180.203/washtubforge.htm

This design was never intended to be used for welding. I wanted a forge that could handle blades up to 15 inches long with an even heat from end to end and be portable. I didnt want it for welding because I like to keep this forge barbeque ready. I didnt want to use flux or anything but natural lump charcoal in it so it would be clean enough to cook on. That was my original intention but I can see why that doesnt fit everyones needs. I do all my welding in a ground forge.

A couple characteristics about using natural charcoal lump as fuel for bladesmithing are it requires less air than most think even for welding. And the more insulated the walls of the forge the better. I like adobe but many have used store bought refactory cement with great success (Be aware all refactory cements are not usable for thick wall construction). A ground forge with adobe walls in the earth about a foot deep and about 3 feet long works extremely well for welding. It uses very little fuel and gets up to temp quickly and evenly and I never have a problem with my pipe tuyere design getting clogged with clinkers using natural charcoal. I guess every forge has its learning curve but mosting its about slowing down the air and good thick walls for charcoal. For bladesmithing it just makes sense to me to have an elongated forge design to keep the heat contained right around the blade. I can see using a round forge for other projects I guess so it all depends on what your needs are. I built mine the way I did because I like 15 inch bowie and campknife patterns. Lately Ive had my head more into Japanese techniqes and I decided I need longer soak times for heat treating so Ive built a hood for my wash tub forge with another washtub and insulwool. The ground forge I described is also great for long, even soaking cycles.

Edited by Tim Lively

He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is.

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I made this forge based on Tims design and it works very well. I used a small steel drum that I found on the side of the road. Just cut it in half and made a hole on one end for the plumbing. It is lined with castable refractory, I have a refractory supplier here in town. Every now and then I take off the endcap and blow out any ash or dust and thats it. I actually do most of my forging in a gas forge and almost all of my heat treating in this forge.

I still have not been able to build a side draft forge that works well for me, although Im sure its just bad design on my part. Ill keep at till I get one that works good. Untill then this forge does what I need and should work for anyone else as well.

Larry Sharp

 

P.S. Hey Tim, how is the flood recovery going? Hope its going well.

 

charforge_004_copy.jpg

When the world ends, I want to be in Kentucky because they are 25 years behind everybody else. Mark Twain

 

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I use this one for coal, but it works great for charcoal too I would bet. But then again you said you didn't want one like this.

Demo_1.JPG

Demo_2.JPG

Demo_3.JPG

Let not the swords of good and free men be reforged into plowshares, but may they rest in a place of honor; ready, well oiled and God willing unused. For if the price of peace becomes licking the boots of tyrants, then "To Arms!" I say, and may the fortunes of war smile upon patriots

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yea, iv seen the brake drum forge, i think maybe ill draw up what im thinking and you guys can rip it up and i can start all over again but from square 2 this time! what i realy liked is that one of daniels...that was a pretty nice one IMO...to bad the pics arnt still in the thread. thanks for the pics sam

formerly youngbuck...i now have a name!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks a great looking forge Larry. I bet it works real well. Im still picking up the pieces around here after being flooded month ago. We're going to move to another place this next week.

 

Cool forge Sam. Coal? Yuk!

He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is.

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